Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

ENVELOPMENT OF PERSIA          467
sovereignty of the Shah in Sistan, it could not interfere.
Strictly, the case was one in which the recently signed
treaty might have been invoked ; but, as the Government
of India had not at this time acknowledged Shir Ali
Khan, who was fighting to establish himself at Kabul,
arbitration was out of the question. Being pressed to
give a definite answer as to its intentions, the Foreign
Office in 1863 wrote that "Her Majesty's Government,
being informed that the title to the territory of Sistan is
disputed between Persia and Afghanistan, must decline to
interfere in the matter, and must leave it to both parties
to make good their possession by force of arms."
This declaration of policy favoured Persia, as Shir Ali
at the time was unable to defend Afghan frontier interests.
The Government of the Shah, on the other hand, secure
from British remonstrances, continued steadily to pursue
its policy of establishing Persian influence and power until
all the Persian inhabitants of Sistan had been brought
under the control of Teheran. But Shir Ali, having at
length succeeded in establishing himself firmly upon the
throne of Kabul, threatened to go to war with Persia.
Upon this the British Government, forsaking the policy
of masterly inactivity, proposed arbitration under the sixth
article of the Treaty of Paris, and this offer was accepted.
The Sistan Arbitration Commission, 1872.—After his
success in securing the ratification of the Makran
boundary, Sir Frederic Goldsmid was instructed to
proceed to Sistan and there adjudicate on Persian and
Afghan claims. The British Mission started from Bandar
Abbas and in Sistan was joined by General Pollock, who
represented Lord Mayo, Governor-General of India, and
by Dr. Bellew, the well-known orientalist.
The Amir of Kain, Mir Alum Khan, and the Persian
Commissioner both treated the Mission with marked
hostility and made it abundantly clear that it is a mistake
not to provide an escort of British troops on such
occasions. General Goldsmid, whose forbearance was
extraordinary, made such surveys and enquiries as were
possible, and then, as in the case of the former Boundary
Commission, returned to Teheran.